A Muslim family from Jaffa said Thursday it plans to file a lawsuit against the
police, after officers allegedly used excessive force to evict it two days
earlier from a south Tel Aviv house in which it was squatting.
video, a group of Yassam riot police can be seen wrestling with Sameer Kassem,
34, as he holds his four-year-old daughter.
Police kick and punch Kassem
as he lays on the ground, and one officer puts his sister, a woman wearing a
veil, in a headlock and throws her to the ground.
No social workers or
female officers were at the scene, even though a family with young children was
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Kassem was still nursing
his wounds in Jaffa’s Hashtayim Park tent city on Thursday, where he is staying
with his family. He sported two black eyes, and what he said was a broken nose
and a bruised rib following the incident, which was filmed by an activist and
uploaded to the Internet on Thursday.
Kassem said his family has been
homeless since May, when his mother, who used to help him with his expenses,
died and he could no longer pay rent. He said that he, his wife, and their five
children moved to the vacant house on Salameh Street about two weeks ago after
someone set their tent on fire at Hashtayim Park.
He said his children
were having trouble sleeping at the tent city, especially after it rained
recently. Kassem’s sister had been living at the vacant house for a few weeks
and invited him to stay there with his children he added.
Kassem, on Tuesday they were informed by police that they would arrive in the
afternoon to evict them and he decided to begin packing their belongings in the
When police finally arrived, he said he decided to take his
infant and hole up in the house, hoping that maybe police would relent and allow
them to stay.
“At 2:30 p.m. they arrived to evict us and I didn’t know
what to do – to evacuate or to stay – so I decided to take the little girl and
not leave, hoping that they would give us more time. Then four or five police
came in, didn’t say anything to me, just began hitting me from all
Kassem said that police opened a charge of assaulting a
police officer against him and released him on Wednesday without charges after
the video was presented to the court.
He said that the rest of the
children were in school when the incident happened and have not viewed the video
either. The four-year-old daughter who was present however, has been suffering
from trauma ever since he added.
“My daughter has been in trauma and
panic ever since it happened. She has been afraid and not able to
Kassem’s 10-year-old daughter Dunya said that she did not want to
watch the video and that she was happy because no one at school had talked about
it to her yet. She added that she has been doing her homework recently under a
street-lamp in the park, and was very sad to return to the tent city on
The video was made by an activist named Haim Shwartzenberger, an activist in the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement,
who said he made the video through the window of the house while hiding from
According to a police response to the Walla! website on Thursday,
police used force because Kassem “threatened to blow up the building using a gas
tank and to harm his daughter. His sister threw shards of glass at police and
opened the gas line. Reasonable force was used in order to rescue the
daughter from her father.”
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